Tree Service operators violating more than just ordinances

It turns out two St. Joseph County brothers who've been operating a tree service without a license in South Bend are violating more than just local ordinances.

Gary and Rick Franklin used to run their business under the name Wayne's Tree and Landscaping Service.

Their license was revoked last summer because of a police investigation.

About a week later, Rick was involved in a bucket truck accident with his 8-year-old nephew within city limits, so the brothers were banned from operating a tree service in South Bend.

But, now, city officials say they're continuing to offer their tree trimming services up to residents.

"If they're not licensed with us, there's no way of verifying whether they have the proper insurance," said South Bend's Business License Administrator Michelle Adams. "So, if someone is injured or something is damaged while they're there, they may not have the proper coverage for it."

But, that's not the only reason to be alarmed.

Both brothers have lengthy criminal records.

In the 1990s, Gary Franklin scammed elderly women out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And, according to court documents, Rick pleaded guilty to 42 counts after being arrested for running a large, stolen property ring in Kentucky eight years ago.

Even more shocking, the brothers have both been arrested on similar charges in the past month.

South Bend police arrested Gary last month for hauling a stolen Bobcat away on a stolen trailer.

They say he had open containers of alcohol and Vicodin with him at the time.

And, just last week, Rick was booked into the St. Joseph County Jail for possession of stolen property.

It seems the brothers' already long wrap sheet keeps growing -- which highlights the importance of doing research before hiring any company at a home.

"I just think it's one of those buyer beware situations that you should fully investigate any business you can hire by calling the city of South Bend," Adams said.

She says any business licensed by the city should be able to present a physical license to customers.

The following arborists are currently licensed in South Bend:

- A Cut Above Tree Service
- Acorn Landscaping, LLC
- Alex's Take Down Tree Service
- American Tree Care, Inc.
- Arborcare, Inc.
- B and B Floral Adventures
- Ballew Landscape Construction
- Custom & Moore Tree Experts
- Cut-Rite Services
- Doug's Mishawaka Tree Service
- Envirovision
- Foegley Landscape, Inc.
- Fuerbringer Landscape & Design
- K & R Tree Service
- Kachur Tree Service
- KC Tree, Inc.
- Kevin's Tree & Landscaping
- Landmark/Solliday Landscaping
- Leonard's Landscape & Tree
- MAAC Property Ser vices
- Mark Temple Tree Service
- McLean's Services, Inc.
-Michiana Tree Service
- Miramontes Tree Service
- Peek's Tree Experts
- San-Mar Tree & Maintenance
- Serene Scapes, Inc.
- Super Tree, Inc.
- Temple Tree & Curb Appeal Co.
- The Cutting Edge
- TLC Tree Removal
- Vera Cruz Tree Service
- Tru-Green, Inc.
- Underly Tree Service
- Watson's Tree Service
- WM Coar, ISA Certified Arborist
- 4 Seasons Tree Service

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